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India Scraps $500M Military Deal With Israel Amid Rising Popular Concern About India’s Complicity in Israeli Crimes

BDS | November 21, 2017

Yesterday, media reported that the Indian Ministry of Defense scrapped the $500M deal with Israeli arms manufacturer Rafael Advanced Defense Systems for its missile systems. Years in the making, the deal had been celebrated in international media and was finalized after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to Israel in July. In August, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and its Indian partner Kalyani Strategic Systems opened a facility in Hyderabad to manufacture the missile systems.

The deal was cancelled after India’s state-run Defense Research Development Organisation asserted that India should not import this Israeli technology.

Jamal Juma’, coordinator of the Palestinian Stop the Wall Campaign and BNC secretariat member said:

India’s decision to scrap this massive arms deal with Israel is a huge blow to the Israeli weapons industry. This $500 million deal would have fueled Israel’s military industry, which is deeply implicated in war crimes against the Palestinian people.

It is also a major setback for Israel’s propaganda hubris that its technology is indispensable for India’s development and modernization. As many Indians are recognizing, Israel is marketing military and agricultural technologies in India and trying to cement Indian dependence on Israel.

Israel seeks a flow of Indian cash for it’s own profit and to help finance its criminal wars and apartheid regime.

India is by far the globe’s biggest importer of Israeli weapons, and Israel is enjoying almost unparalleled influence in the Indian military system. Israel is equipping the Indian army with Israeli guns, the Indian airforce and navy with Israeli airplanes and missiles, and is also providing communication systems and technology in all levels of the Indian military.

Over the last two decades, Indo-Israeli military relations have continuously increased despite various corruption scandals and technical failures.

Similar patterns have started to surface in other sectors as well. India’s 16 million-strong farmer’s union AIKS has endorsed the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) “in order to stand for the rights of the Palestinian people and to resist the corporate takeover of Indian agriculture sector by Israeli companies.”

Members of Telengana’s state assembly last week denounced state-sponsored trips of Indian farmers to Israel as “a wastage of money.”

Omar Barghouti, co-founder of  the BNC said:

We hope this is the beginning of the end of Indian complicity in Israel’s egregious violation of international law and Palestinian human rights. As Palestinians we ask the Indian people to maintain their proud legacy of commitment to independence,  to growing local knowledge and to respecting other people’s struggles for self-determination.

Israel’s regime of oppression can never be a model for the great Indian nation that once led the non-aligned movement and upheld the right of all nations to self determination and freedom. Israel exports to India what it knows best — technology that represses, militarizes and dispossesses people of their land and water rights. India is better off without that.

Last week it was announced that Indian Oil and Natural Gas Corporations are bidding for drilling rights in gas fields claimed by Israel, despite the many controversies linked to territorial disputes in such fields.  In August, India’s Adventz group signed a Memorandum of Understanding to develop Israel’s Jerusalem Light Rail, which serves Israel’s settlements in and around occupied East Jerusalem in violation of international law.

Omar Barghouti said:

As large multinationals increasingly abandon their illegal projects in Israel due to effective BDS pressure, Israel has started dragging India into deals fraught with legal and political problems. Indian companies would be well advised to avoid getting sucked into Israel’s human rights violations as more and more international corporations refuse to get involved in such complicity.

The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement for Palestinian rights. 

November 21, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 2 Comments

Russia, Turkey, Iran meeting to discuss Syria strategy

By M.K. Bhadrakumar | Asia Times | November 17, 2017

In a historic development, Russian President Vladimir Putin will be hosting his Turkish and Iranian counterparts – Recep Erdogan and Hassan Rouhani – at a trilateral summit on November 22 in Sochi.

Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported that the meeting, the first of its kind between the three countries, will focus on Syria and the overall situation in the Middle East. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said the leaders “will handle Astana [peace talks in the capital of Kazakhstan earlier this year] and the political transition process in Syria. They will make important evaluations.” This comes as an unexpected development but is not surprising. Simply put, the three countries share a profound sense of disquiet over Washington’s regional strategies and sense that an inflection point is being reached.

There has been some abrasive behavior by the US on the regional chessboard over the past week or two. For example, US Defence Secretary James Mattis disclosed on November 13 that his country’s military presence in Syria will continue even after ISIS is defeated. Russia promptly challenged the legitimacy of the US presence under international law. Russia, Turkey and Iran are opposed to a continued US presence in Syria. Turkey is particularly worried that a long-term alliance between the US and the Syrian Kurdish militia will complicate its own problem of Kurdish separatism.

Meanwhile, unnamed US State Department officials have claimed that Russia has assured the US that the Iranian militia and Hezbollah will leave Syria. Moscow then had to issue a denial through Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Linked to this is the Israeli demand that a buffer zone be created in the Golan Heights from which the Iranian militia or Hezbollah be excluded.

The US, meanwhile, has once again raked up the issue of the fate of Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad, insisting that he cannot be part of any transition or elected government. The US has also questioned the raison d’etre of the Astana talks (involving Russia, Turkey and Iran) and insists that the focus should shift back to the Geneva process under UN supervision.

Ironically, it was when the Geneva process began meandering that Russia got Turkey and Iran over to Astana to painstakingly iron out their differences and work out a ceasefire in stages, and thereafter establish de-escalation zones to bring the war to an end.

The US feels excluded from the major achievements made in Astana to end the bloodshed in Syria. However, Washington was always welcome to join the process but chose to abstain. Washington has ruffled Russia’s feathers and Moscow has threatened to expose the US’s alleged covert dealings with ISIS. Unsurprisingly, Russian politicians have threatened to raise the matter at the UN.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Russian Defence Ministry openly alleged that the US military is impeding Russian air attacks on ISIS targets on the Syrian-Iraqi border and is indirectly enabling the terrorists to regroup. The Pentagon called it a Russian “lie.” At any rate, the very next day, six Russian Tupolov long-range bombers flew from bases in Russia via Iranian and Iraqi airspace to vanquish those ISIS targets in a massive air strike.

The US military is maneuvering on the Iraq-Syria border to bring the region under its control so that it will be in a position to create new facts on the ground and block a land route from Iran leading to the Levant.
Notably, the strong alliance with the Kurdish militia gives the US the wherewithal to influence events in Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Indeed, oil and oil pipelines form an important vector of the geopolitics, too.

The “dogfight under a carpet” in US politics is complicating matters for Moscow. The Russians don’t have an interlocutor in Washington – something they never lacked even in the darkest periods of the Cold War.
Suffice to say, the latest developments in Lebanon have created dark forebodings of a regional war. Unsurprisingly, Russia, Turkey and Iran must be feeling the need to coordinate their efforts to push back at the US.

Both Turkey and Iran estimate that Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s seemingly irrational behavior has a pattern. They suspect a script was worked out by Israel and the Trump administration with the objective of creating quagmires for Ankara and Tehran.

Earlier this week, Erdogan openly ridiculed the crown prince from an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) platform and questioned whether he was qualified to differentiate “moderate Islam” from the extremist form. The simmering discord between the erstwhile Caliph and the Custodian of the Holy Places who succeeded him (on the debris of the Ottoman Empire) surged into view. Equally, Iran can see that the Saudis are encouraging Israel to attack Lebanon. In fact, Rouhani openly spoke about it on Wednesday.

The trilateral summit in Sochi next week is most likely Erdogan’s idea. He traveled to Sochi to meet Putin on Monday en route to Kuwait and Qatar. While in Doha, Erdogan reaffirmed Turkey’s military support to the emir.

Indeed, all this is playing out against the backdrop of the snowballing crises in the US’s bilateral relations with Russia, Turkey and Iran.

November 17, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Wars for Israel | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Secretary Mattis Is Off Base: US Military Presence in Syria Has No Legal Grounds

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 17.11.2017

Although the US has many times stated that its target is IS only, it appears that its intentions may go beyond the stated objective. In fact, Washington is seeking to retain post-conflict zones of influence within the country, where the American presence is illegal.

Asked at a press-conference on Nov. 13 if the US military will stay or leave Syria, US Defense Secretary James Mattis stated, “We’re not just going to walk away right now before the Geneva process has cracked.” He stressed the importance of the Geneva settlement process held under the auspices of the UN, saying “we got to get the UN-brokered effort in Geneva to take this thing forward.” Answering a question about the legal grounds for the US presence in the country, the secretary explained “You know, the UN said that ISIS — basically we can go after ISIS. And we’re there to take them out.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry issued a firm warning to the US and other foreign forces in Syria on Nov. 14. According to it, “The presence of US forces or any foreign military presence in Syria without the consent of the Syrian government constitutes an act of aggression and an attack on the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic as well as a gross violation of the charter and principles of the United Nations.” In September, Deputy Foreign Minister of Syria Faisal Mekdad stated that the US “should withdraw its military; otherwise the Syrian army will consider them as a hostile force.”

So, the US is not going to leave and believes that its military operations in Syria do not run counter to international law. Now what about the legal grounds for maintaining the US military presence there?

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1373 was adopted unanimously on 28 September 2001 as a counter-terrorism measure passed following the 9/11 terrorist attacks on the United States. It does not say a military intervention is allowed. No border crossing is envisaged.

Resolution 2249 adopted by the UN Security Council in November 2015 called on UN member states that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures” and “to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL [Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL)]” as well as other terrorist groups. However, the document emphasizes that the states are to do so in compliance with international law”. It’s important to note that the resolution in question does not give the right to intervene militarily. It does not mention Chapter VII of UN Charter, which envisages the use of force under certain conditions. The document contains no specific reference to Syria.

Resolution 2254 adopted in December 2015 says it’s up to Syrian people to decide their fate through formal talks and a unity government.

UN General Assembly Resolution 3314 on the definition of aggression explicitly states that an invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State of the territory of another State” as well as any military occupation, however temporary” or “bombardment by the armed forces of a State against the territory of another State” is what particularly constitutes aggression.

It has become increasingly difficult for the US to justify its operations in Syria under the pretext of fighting Islamic State (IS). Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım has accused the US military of turning a blind eye on IS militants fleeing Syria’s Raqqa unobstructed along with their weapons and ammunition. According to him, “The escaped [IS] members will be the reason for the deaths of innocent people in every corner of the world, including Turkey, Europe, and America.” He made these comments against the background of the Russian Defense Ministry accusing the United States of “providing de-facto cover” for IS jihadists in Syria “and only pretending to fight terrorism in the Middle East.”

With legal arguments unravelling, the Defense Department’s untenable position has become noticeable, even within its own ranks. General Raymond Thomas, the Commander of US Special Operations Command, acknowledged the US presence in Syria doesn’t have a leg to stand on in terms of international law. “Here’s the conundrum,” he explained. “We are operating in the sovereign country of Syria. The Russians, their stalwarts, their back-stoppers, have already uninvited the Turks from Syria. We’re a bad day away from the Russians saying, ‘Why are you still in Syria, US?”

The establishment of a 55-km closed zone around the US base in the area of the Syrian town of al-Tanf with humanitarian aid to refugees blocked is an example of flagrant violation of international law that should be addressed by the UN Security Council. The establishment of the base near the Syria-Jordan border was publicly justified by the need to conduct operations against Islamic State. However, no information has been received about any US operations against the group conducted from this area. To the contrary, IS has been reported to operate freely in an area abutting the base.

The largest Rukban refugee camp accommodating more than 60,000 women and children from Raqqa and Deir ez-Zor is located in the “safe zone” close to the base. The refugees appear to be used as hostages or a “human shield” to protect the American military stationed at al-Tanf. On and off, militant groups supposedly trained by Americans in the area strike Syria government forces. The more US forces are in-theater in Syria, the greater the chance of conflict between them and Syrian troops.

The United States has many times stated its target is IS only; it is not at war with the Syrian government. It appears that its intentions may go beyond the stated objective of fighting terrorism, while seeking to retain post-conflict zones of influence within the country, where the American presence is illegal. Russia, Iran, and other allied Syrian forces are in Syria legally, at the invitation of the UN-recognized state authority. The United States and its coalition partners are not. This fact is irrefutable. By no stretch of imagination could anyone find a justification for US military operations on Syrian soil.

November 17, 2017 Posted by | Deception, Illegal Occupation | , | 1 Comment

Mattis claims UN let US intervene in Syria, although it never did

A picture taken on September 5, 2017 shows smoke billowing out following a coalition air strike in the western al-Daraiya neighbourhood of the embattled northern Syrian city of Raqa. © Delil Souleiman

RT | November 14, 2017

US Defense Secretary James Mattis has recently claimed that Washington received a mandate to operate in Syria from no less than the UN itself. The problem is the UN never did any such thing as it does not even have any legal capacity to do so.

The UN cannot sanction a foreign invasion of Syria or any other country because it is absolutely impossible under international law, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said, commenting on the issue. “The UN cannot do such things,” he told the Russian media.

He went on to say that “Syria is a sovereign independent state,” adding that “only the Syrian government can invite armed forces of the third countries onto its territory” while “the UN has no such right,” as reported by Rossiyskaya Gazeta daily. The diplomat also said that “the fight against terrorism does not give any states or coalitions a free hand to establish their presence on Syrian territory.”

International law indeed envisages no way for the UN or any other international body to sanction an invasion of one state’s armed forces on the territory of another state. In fact, such actions are regarded as aggression under international law and are strictly prohibited.

UN General Assembly Resolution 3314 on the definition of aggression explicitly states that an “invasion or attack by the armed forces of a State of the territory of another State” as well as “any military occupation, however temporary” or “bombardment by the armed forces of a State against the territory of another State” is what particularly constitutes aggression.

However, all these facts did not prevent Mattis from claiming that it was the UN that sanctified the presence of the US troops on the Syrian territory without the consent of the Syrian government. “You know, the UN said that … basically we can go after ISIS. And we’re there to take them out,” the US defense secretary said, referring to the US actions in Syria as he answered a journalist’s question on Monday.

Apparently, he implied that a call by UN on the international community and the US in particular to take action was more than enough to justify the US military’s presence in Syria. Actually, the UN did issue such a call – in Resolution 2249 adopted by the Un Security Council in November 2015.

Resolution 2249 called on UN member states “that have the capacity to do so to take all necessary measures” and “to redouble and coordinate their efforts to prevent and suppress terrorist acts committed specifically by ISIL [Islamic State (IS, former ISIS/ISIL)]” as well as other terrorist groups.

However, it urged the states to do so “in compliance with international law” – something that the US officials often neglect when they assess the actions of the US military abroad.

The statements of the US defense secretary also provoked an angry reaction in Damascus. The Syrian government once again stated that the US troops are operating on Syrian territory without its consent and in violation of international law.

“The presence of the US forces or any foreign military presence in Syria without the consent of the Syrian government constitutes an act of aggression and an attack on the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic as well as a gross violation of the Charter and principles of the United Nations,” Syria’s Foreign Ministry said, as cited by the SANA news agency.

It further said that the US presence “only leads to prolonging the crisis and further complicating it,” adding that the real goal of the US in Syria apparently lies in obstructing the peace process. The ministry then once again called for the immediate and unconditional withdrawal of US forces from Syrian territory.

The statements made by Mattis are “absolutely baseless” and “irresponsible,” Vyacheslav Matuzov, a political scientist and the head of the Russian-Arab Friendship and Business Cooperation Society, told RT, commenting on the issue. He went on to say that any foreign military presence on the territory of any state can be authorized solely by the legitimate government of that state.

“There is a clear position of the Syrian authorities, according to which the US troops are stationed on the Syrian territory illegally,” he said, adding that there can be “no argument” about the legal status of US forces in Syria.

November 15, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

Balfour Mentality Has No Place in Civilized Society

By Stuart Littlewood | American Herald Tribune | November 14, 2017

The Balfour Declaration of 1917 was hatched by Zionist schemers and foisted upon a gullible and desperate British government in time of war. Those dark forces then worked hard to ensure that the first part of the pledge (and much more) was implemented while the second part, which promised to safeguard the rights and interests of the existing non-Jewish population of Palestine, was permanently suppressed.

This betrayal has shamed and angered right-thinking British people for decades. The Government could apologise and make amends but lacks the moral fibre. In the meantime, the spectacle of sick-minded elements of the British Establishment celebrating 100 years of Balfour is beyond all bounds of decency. It was met with such strong counter-demonstrations that supporters of Israeli apartheid will hopefully feel more isolated from now on. They are relatively few, corralled in their Westminster bubble. We are many, and growing.

But we still have an ignorant, biased mainstream media to contend with. During his visit to join the jollifications Israeli prime minister Netanyahu was given a platform on the BBC’s flagship Andrew Marr Show where he spouted his propaganda lies without serious challenge from the usually forensic Marr. A pity George Galloway wasn’t on hand for the occasion.

The Daily Mail meanwhile accused Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn of snubbing an invitation to the gala dinner with Netanyahu to honour Balfour and the birth of Israel and slammed him for speaking at a MEND (stands for Muslim Engagement Development) event instead. MEND in turn was accused of being a hard-line Islamist organisation masquerading as civil libertarians, and extremist with it.

Former Communities Secretary Sir Eric Pickles called Corbyn’s snub “a slap in the face of Israel, and of all British Jewish citizens of the United Kingdom”. He said: “To not make a dinner is perhaps excusable but to attend a meeting of extremists who are vowed to destroy Israel is contemptible.

The unswerving devotion by Tory grandees like Pickles to the real extremists, chief among them Her Majesty’s Government’s guest of honour Netanyahu, is nauseating. This hard-line nutter, with his repulsive gang, continues to expropriate Palestinian land and property and ethnically cleanse Palestinian citizens from their homeland at gunpoint and with armoured bulldozers. And Pickles calls Corbyn contemptible?

Jennifer Gerber, of Labour Friends of Israel, declared that it was “utterly unacceptable” for the Labour leader to attend an event organised by a group that has repeatedly peddled myths about the Israel lobby. So uncomfortable truths are relegated to myth? In any case what are agents of a foreign military power doing in the Labour Party and using it to influence the work of the British parliament? It’s high time all party leaders shut down the pro-Israel meddlers in their ranks, just as they’d crush interference on behalf of any other rogue state.

Personally I don’t believe Israel has a friend in the whole world apart from those it has bought and the sad folk who have allowed themselves to be perverted by Christian-Zionist pastors and the Scofield bible.

Then Emily Thornberry, Labour’s shadow Foreign Secretary, was criticised for “disgraceful” Balfour comments and accused of having “reflected Corbyn’s view that the Labour party has no place as a mediator in the Israel-Palestine conflict”. Professor Colin Shindler, a Senior Research Fellow in Israel Studies and an advisory board member of the Israel Institute, said: “Corbyn over the last thirty years has never been a mediator between Israel and Palestine but a propagandist for one side and one side only. This goes against all the talk about peace and reconciliation – it doesn’t make any sense at all.”

I wonder, has Shindler tried saying the same to the Conservative Party, with 80 percent if its MPs signed up to Friends of Israel?

Thornberry argued that the Balfour Declaration should not have been celebrated “because I think it was a turning point in the history of that area, and I think probably the most important way of marking it is to recognise Palestine”. This will strike most people as a perfectly reasonable position given that successive British governments over the last 40 years have fielded prime ministers and foreign secretaries who were eager stooges for Israel, happy to turn a blind eye to its crimes and only too pleased to help thwart attempts to win justice for those it has cruelly oppressed in the Holy Land.

The latest fiasco is the crazy adventures of Conservative glamour-girl Priti Patel, the International Development Secretary who had 14 meetings with Israeli politicians (including prime minister Netanyahu and his security minister) during a family holiday in Israel without telling the Foreign Office, her civil servants or her boss Theresa May, and without government officials present. This was not only a two-finger salute to the ministerial code of conduct but a gross breach of security.

She’s accused of freelancing in foreign policy and is said to have tried persuading colleagues to send British taxpayers’ money as aid for an Israeli forces project in the Golan Heights. Like we don’t need the money here, with 300,000 homeless and sleeping rough….  Furthermore, she actually visited the Golan. Everyone and his dog knows — except Patel, apparently — that the Golan Heights is Syrian territory stolen in 1967 by the Israelis who have illegally occupied it ever since. Touring it with the thieving occupation army was a monumental diplomatic blunder.

Patel’s meetings are said to have been arranged by Lord Polak. This individual was an official of the Board of Deputies of British Jews in the 1980s, joined the Conservative Friends of Israel in 1989, and served as its director for 26 years until appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for political service and made a life peer. It’s hard to see what political service Polak performed for anyone except the Israeli regime.

The Patel-Polak shambles is a disturbing echo of the Fox-Werrity affair back in 2011. The then shadow Secretary of State for Defence Dr Liam Fox had been quoted on the Conservative Friends of Israel website as saying: “In the battle for the values that we stand for, for democracy against theocracy, for democratic liberal values against repression — Israel’s enemies are our enemies.” The Jewish Chronicle hailed him as “a champion of Israel within the government”. Fox has continually rattled the sabre against Iran which, of course, is no enemy of Britain but regarded by Israel as an obstacle to its craving for supremacy in the region. So it was well advertised where Fox was coming from. No surprise, then, when he became the centre of an unsavoury scandal involving him, his ‘close friend’ Adam Werrity, the UK’s ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould (who had previously served at senior level in the embassy in Iran) and Israeli intelligence figures allegedly involved in plotting sanctions against Iran. The Foreign Office and civil servants knew little or nothing about these meetings.

Fox jumped before he was pushed, so did Patel. Pimping for Israel is never seriously punished in the corridors of British power and Fox was speedily rehabilitated in the bosom of the Conservative Party and is now Secretary of State for International Trade. We can expect to see Patel back on board quite soon.

She is replaced by Penny Mordaunt, also a good looking woman but with a much more impressive CV — and she’s a Royal Navy reservist.

Another pimp for Israel, Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, was giving evidence before the Foreign Affairs Committee the other day. He said of Hamas: “If they want to enter the democratic process, then it’s very clear what they have to do. They have to renounce terror, they have to recognise the State of Israel, and they’ve got to stop spewing out anti-Semitic propaganda.” I wonder, has he tried saying the same to Netanyahu about the Israelis’ behaviour towards the Palestinians?

In the debate on the Balfour Declaration earlier Johnson said of Israel: “It is a pluralist society, a society that protects the rights of those who live within it. It is a democracy. It is, in my view, a country to be saluted and celebrated.” Completely taken in.

A few months ago Theresa May, if you remember, attacked the successful BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) movement, warning that her government would “have no truck with those who subscribe to it”. 200 legal scholars and practising lawyers from all over Europe promptly pointed out that BDS is lawful freedom of expression and outlawing it undermines a basic human right protected by international convention. But May is so infatuated with Israel that she never misses a chance to tell everyone how she adores the Zionist entity. It’s time civil society made it clear that we’ll have no truck with her or any other supporter of apartheid and ethnic cleansing. In other words, the Balfour mind-set has no place in our society.

This may be a good time to remember George Washington’s wise words: “The nation which indulges towards another a habitual hatred or a habitual fondness is in some degree a slave… a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils.”

November 14, 2017 Posted by | Corruption, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 3 Comments

Pentagon’s Claims That US Won’t Leave Syria Violate Geneva Agreements – Lavrov

Sputnik – 14.11.2017

The Russian foreign minister has commented on the situation in Syria, including the US actions in the war-plagued country and preparations for the creation of the national congress that would help resolve the crisis.

The announcement from Pentagon chief James Mattis that the US forces will not leave Syria until the “political process is moving in the right direction,” violate the Geneva agreements, Sergei Lavrov said.

“The United States believes that the right direction for Syria is regime change, as you know. Despite not demanding that Syrian President Bashar Assad resign immediately, their claims contradict the Geneva agreements, ” Lavrov said, adding that Washington’s stated aim in the Syria war is the fight against terrorism.

At the same time, the situation in Syria’s Abu Kamal with the US forces sparing terrorists is not a unique case, the Russian foreign minister has said, adding that the goals of Washington in the war-torn country remain unknown.

Meanwhile, he went on to say, Washington’s wards from various militant groups are the greatest danger in Syria.

“If you look at who is the greatest danger, it’s just the wards of the United States, various foreign terrorists, militants who are attached to those groups of armed opposition that the US supports,” Lavrov said.

Lavrov also said that Russia did not promise to ensure the withdrawal of pro-Iran groups from Syria, commenting on a statement from a State Department official who said otherwise.

Damascus has repeatedly slammed the US presence in Syria, underscoring that any foreign military operation taking place without the government’s consent would be considered an illegal invasion. Russia kicked off its operation against Daesh in Syria in 2015 at the request of the Damascus government.

November 14, 2017 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Israel Plans To Double The Number Of Colonists In The Jordan Valley

IMEMC News – November 10, 2017

The Israeli government is preparing a plan to double the number of Israeli colonists in the Jordan Valley of the occupied West bank.

The new plan was presented by Israeli “Housing Minister” Yoav Galant, who previously served as the Commander of the Southern Command in the Israel army, and aims at doubling the number of colonists in the Jordan Valley, to reach approximately 12000.

As part of his plan, the Israeli government would be providing serious incentives to entice Israeli families to live, build and work in the Jordan Valley, through direct cooperation with various government ministries, to control the entire area.

The Israeli Minister said that “Israel’s leaders all agree that the Jordan Valley, will always be part of the state under any possible future peace agreement.”

Mahdi Daraghma, a member of a Local Council in the Jordan Valley, said the army has already ordered the eviction of Palestinians from Ein al-Hilwa and Khirbet Um al-Jamal, and the al-Maleh area in the Northern Plains, within the coming eight days.

Daraghma added that the families received sixty orders to evacuate their dwellings, barns and agricultural sheds, an issue which would displace 200 Palestinians.

He also said that the new orders were issued on November 1st, and the families only received them on the evening of November 9th.

This means that the Israeli army could invade these communities and displace the families at any given moment.

Israel’s colonies in the occupied territories, including in and around East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley, are illegal under International Law, and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

November 10, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , | 3 Comments

Netanyahu is redefining ethnic cleansing not pursuing genuine peace

Professor Kamel Hawwash | MEMO | November 10, 2017

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is not known for missing an opportunity to push peace further into the distant future. The dust had not even settled on the Balfour Centenary, which the Palestinians marked with anger and Israel and its supporters celebrated, before Netanyahu took to the air to absolve Israel of any fault for the lack of progress towards peace. Israel is in a difficult neighbourhood and therefore its security needs are such that meeting these is almost incompatible with a Palestinian state.

In an interview with the well-known BBC broadcaster Andrew Marr, he trotted out the usual talking points. Israel, he said, “stands out as a beacon of democracy, a beacon of self-restraint in a sea of trouble”. As for the Israeli army, “there is no more moral army in the world,” he said. The settlements “are an issue but I don’t think they are the issue”. Instead he believes the issue “is the 100-year-old refusal of the Palestinian leadership to recognise a Jewish state in any boundary”.  Netanyahu took issue with Marr regarding the settlements, saying “the idea that Jews cannot live in Judea [the West Bank] is crazy”. When challenged that it is Palestinian territory, which the UN says is a flagrant violation of international law, he said that it is “disputed territory”. He even claimed that the settlements are “a side issue for Palestinians too,” arguing that he is continuing to work for the liberation of the whole of historic Palestine.

On the prospects for a Palestinian state he said that the Palestinians “should have all the powers to govern themselves and none of the powers to threaten us”. Marr pushed him on whether this means the end of the two-state solution and the move to a different solution – one state. “No,” he replied, “I don’t want a one-state solution. I’ll be clear about that”. He argued that it was about the kind of state that emerges. To him it would have to be demilitarised and recognise the state of Israel. In fact, the Palestinian Authority has already met both these conditions. In signing the Oslo Accords, the PLO recognised the state of Israel while Israel did not recognise a Palestinian state, but rather the PLO as the “sole representative of the Palestinian people”.

In the wider context, the real threat to Israel is the Iranian threat. In a Chatham House interview earlier in the same week, Netanyahu argued that Iran was a “cause”; an expansionist country that wanted to gobble up small and medium-sized states as it moved towards the “larger states”. To him, Israel shares this fear with Sunni-majority countries. He presented Israel as the only example in the Middle East of what he called “modernity” vs. the “Medievalists,” which were both Shia and Sunni Islamists.

Netanyahu again reiterated his belief that the conflict would be finished if the Palestinians recognised a Jewish state. When challenged that in fact the Palestinians will not get a state but an “entity,” Netanyahu came clean. He argued that it was time to “to reassess whether the model we have of sovereignty and unfettered sovereignty is applicable everywhere on the earth”. He pointed to the British not wanting “outside control” on their economy, hence Brexit, and pointed to the lack of “economic sovereignty” that Greece has, referring to his “friend” Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras. He argued that in the complex world we live in, there are constraints on what are considered sovereign powers.

His argument was that in the case of historic Palestine, the land was too small to divide. He said that he had presented to US President Donald Trump a map which showed the distance from the West Bank to the Mediterranean as 50 kilometres which he said was the same distance form “Trump Tower to the George Washington Bridge”. If Israel leaves the West Bank, then “militant Islam” would move in as happened in Gaza and Lebanon. It is either a “green flag” or a “black flag’. While not wanting to “govern the Arabs,” he wants overall security from the river Jordan to the Mediterranean: “For us the critical thing is to have the overriding security responsibility.” The demilitarisation of the West Bank would be done by Israel.

In other words, no Palestinian state will emerge but an entity which would have governing sovereignty but no security sovereignty.

At the same Chatham House event, Netanyahu described the demand for the removal of West Bank settlers as “ethnic cleansing,” comparing the settlers to Palestinian citizens of Israel. “From the Palestinian point of view, why do I have to take out Jews for peace? Do I have to take Arab citizens out of Israel for peace?” The comparison between Palestinian citizens of Israel and the illegal settlers is absurd. The Palestinians were there before Israel was created while the settlers were moved into the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza and the Golan Heights in breach of international law. Their removal would correct a wrong.

This is not the first time Netanyahu has used this analogy. In 2016 he was rebuked for using it by the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the Obama administration. The Obama administration described it as inappropriate: “We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful,” State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said. Perhaps Netanyahu feels that with Donald Trump in the White House, this approach will find favour.

Another term that needs adjusting according to Israel is refugee. The claim now is that Jews that migrated to Israel from Arab countries at its inception are refugees in the same way as Palestinian refugees deliberately driven out of Palestine in 1948 are regarded as refugees, despite the fact that they are not formally recognised as refugees by the UN.

In Netanyahu’s eyes, rather than Israel work towards meeting its obligations under international law for peace, he is attempting to create confusion and change the discourse to make ending the occupation and creating a sovereign Palestinian state a threat to Israel’s very survival. The two terms he is out to remould are now sovereignty and ethnic cleansing.

I wish he was using the brain power around him to pursue genuine peace with the Palestinians instead of thinking that the status quo and redefining a couple of terms will bring Israel peace or security.

November 10, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , | 2 Comments

Report: Jewish Federations Loaded with Cash

By Richard Edmondson | Fig Trees and Vineyards | November 7, 2017

Most Americans probably don’t give it much thought, but Jewish federations are tax exempt, nonprofit organizations. That means that it’s legal to donate money to them and then write it off on your taxes. In a lot of cases, money donated through these organizations end up supporting illegal Israeli settlements. Under US law, however, this is “legal.”

Think about what that means: you can donate money, legally, to support settlements deemed illegal under international law– settlements that have been built illegally on occupied land–and technically you haven’t violated any US laws. And not only that, you get to write it off on your taxes.

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz recently published an in-depth series of reports on the finances of Jewish federations in America. What they found are questionable practices, including nepotism, potential conflicts of interest, and federation executives drawing six-figure salaries–upwards of half a million dollars a year in at least one case. This was the president and CEO of the Los Angeles Federation, who, according to the report, made about $550,000 in the year 2015, or two percent of the federation’s total donations of $26 million that year. The man’s name is Jay Sanderson, who apparently got testy in an interview with the Haaretz reporter.

“I continue to be concerned that you are taking a seemingly one dimensional approach to this piece and to the immeasurable impact of the Federation movement,” he is quoted as saying.

Sanderson’s compensation is some $200,000 more than what other comparable nonprofits pay their directors, the report states.

The report also uncovered sizeable sums of money channeled to support illegal Israeli settlements. Here is an excerpt:

“While support for Israel is clear and loudly proclaimed, support for the settlers and for organizations operating beyond the Green Line is a sensitive issue for the Federations, on which they prefer to remain silent. JFNA guidelines are vague and hard information about the extent of support is meager. Nonetheless, Haaretz has learned that Federation funds have been supporting some of the most hard-line settlers, for example in Hebron and Silwan, East Jerusalem, and organizations aspiring to change the status quo on the Temple Mount. Over the four years from 2012 to 2015, individual federations directly donated about $6 million beyond the Green Line. Although figures for 2015 are partial, it seems to have been a banner year for settlers in the West Bank, who got more than $1.6 million.”

There are a total of 148 Jewish federations in the US, with 10 more in Canada. Their purpose ostensibly is to “promote Jewish life and values,” as the writer, Uri Blau, puts it. He notes that in 2014, as bombs and missiles were pulverizing Gaza, a total of $55 million was sent to Israel. That same year–2014–federations also sent food and medicine to “30,000 elderly Jews and 4,600 children in Ukraine,” this supposedly in response to “Russian military intervention.”

Apparently, as Haaretz continued its investigation, the testiness seemingly displayed by Sanderson spread to other federation officials. Here is another excerpt from the report:

The Haaretz mapping project prompted the JFNA to issue an internal memo, classified as secret, to the managements of the various Federations at the end of January, warning of requests from Haaretz for information.

“We are working with the JFNA and outside consultants on responses to help set the record straight and mitigate any potential negative impacts the story might have,” the document stated and also said, “Because of the sensitive nature of this story we respectfully request that if you are contacted directly (by the reporters) you politely tell them that you ‘will get back to them at a more convenient time’ and notify the Executive Director to discuss potential responses.”

At the JFNA General Assembly in November 2016, when Haaretz privately asked various Federation members questions about issues such as salaries, possible nepotism or support for projects beyond the Green Line, the evasions were less subtle.

“I’m really in a hurry,” one of the heads of the Boston Federation said after he had already agreed to respond to questions.

When Haaretz asked to talk with him at a later time, he said, “No, I don’t have a business card on me.”

Reportedly the Jewish federations are, collectively, the fifth biggest charity in the United States. You can go here to access the Haaretz report.

November 8, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , | 2 Comments

Haley, Israel and the fine art of reality inversion

U.S. Permanent Representative to the UN, Nikki Haley meets Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his office in Jerusalem, June 7, 2017. Image credit: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv/ flickr
By Michael Howard | American Herald Tribune | November 7 ,2017

Last month, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley stated that, should Rex Tillerson find himself cashiered, she would not replace him as secretary of state. “I want to be where I’m most effective,” she said. Whatever that means, we can all breath a sigh of relief. With the intellectual capacity of Sarah Palin, Haley is as clueless, and thus as dangerous, as they come. Her commitment to alternative facts (of the sort the US government has been churning out for decades) is absolute; lest we forget, she reminds us every time she opens her mouth. Depending on the mood I’m in, a Haley speech is either infuriating or darkly comedic. Indeed, many of them could double as trenchant satire, and it is sometimes easy (and comforting) to forget that she is actually speaking on behalf of a global empire.

Haley’s latest performance, a speech to the Israeli-American Council, ought to come with a warning advising viewer discretion, so divorced is it from reality. As the name suggests, the Israeli-American Council is yet another space for Zionist fanatics to reaffirm their love of Israel and, by implication, their hatred of Palestinians, who surely deserve all that they get—or rather don’t deserve what Israel takes, namely arable land, water resources, self-determination, national dignity, individual livelihood and, for many, life itself.

You’ll recall, if I may digress, that in its most recent military attack on Gaza, which took place in the summer of 2014, the IDF killed over 2,000 Palestinians, of whom 1391 were civilians. That’s twenty-eight civilians per day. “Of the Palestinians killed who did not take part in the hostilities,” B’tselem, reported, “180 were babies, toddlers, and children under the age of six. Another 346 were children from age six through seventeen, and 247 were women between the ages of 18 and 59. Another 113 were men and women over the age of sixty.” Which is to say nothing of the hundreds of thousands of Gazans who were displaced, or of the immense damage done to Gazan homes and infrastructure.

By comparison, seventy Israelis were killed in the fighting, sixty-four of them soldiers.

The sheer brutality of Operation “Protective Edge,” as the Israeli’s euphemized the slaughter, made it impossible for any remotely decent human being to rationalize. As the world looked on in disgust, and human rights organizations condemned Israel’s war crimes, then-President Barack Obama (who everyone is so very nostalgic about) droned on about Israel’s “right to defend itself.” “No nation should accept rockets being fired into its borders, or terrorists tunneling into its territory,” he declared, adding, “we are hopeful that Israel will continue to approach this process in a way that minimizes civilian casualties.” The key word there, continue, implies that Obama was satisfied with the IDF’s tactics. In his view, civilian casualties were in fact being “minimized.”

Not to be outdone, Hillary Clinton (another liberal superhero) took things a step further, stating that “Israel did what it had to do to respond to the rockets,” and that “ultimately the responsibility [for all the dead civilians] rests with Hamas.” Hillary went on to cite the “fog of war” as a reason to disregard reports of Israeli atrocities, which were only being denounced, she said, because they were committed by Jews. At the end of the day, “you can’t ever discount anti-Semitism.” Right on, Hil.

Therein lies the essence of the “special relationship” between the US and Israel: Israel runs amok, and the US exploits its status as global superpower to see that there are no repercussions. That’s not quite good enough for the Israel lobby, however (it’s never enough), so the US throws in $4 billion in free military aid every year. After all, “vulnerable” Israel, with its illegal cache of 400 nuclear weapons, faces an existential threat from “hegemonic” Iran, which has zero nuclear weapons and has never invaded another country.

This arrangement would perhaps make sense—from a cynical point of view—if it was mutually beneficial. But of course it’s not. Quite the reverse, actually. The United States’ unswerving support for Israel, along with its own blood-drenched legacy in the Middle East, has made it the primary target for Wahhabi terrorists. If you don’t believe me, read Osama bin Laden’s “Letter to America,” in which American support for the Israeli occupation of Palestine is cited as his number one justification for 9/11. Bin Laden was obsessed with Israel-Palestine, as was/is Ramzi Yousef, who bombed the World Trade Center in 1993. That nothing can justify such acts of mass murder is beside the point: the point is that, by enabling Israel (a morally reprehensible act in itself), the US government puts its own citizens in the crosshairs—for nothing. It’s all risk and no reward. You can decide for yourself whether you think it’s worth it.

With that said, Israel does occasionally pretend to show gratitude for the United States’ masochistic generosity. Getting back to Haley, she opened her speech to the IAC by highlighting the fact that Israel is the only country in the world that supports our decades-long economic war on Cuba. Last week, another UN resolution was adopted calling for an end to the embargo. “The whole world sides with Cuba. Well, almost the whole world. The vote this year was 191 to 2,” Haley said with perverse delight. “Only Israel stood with America against the brutal regime in Cuba.” This strange boast triggered a round of applause from the audience. Then Haley went in for a joke, employing a tone and expression reminiscent of a 1950s TV commercial: “You know what they say: quality is more important than quantity.”

It doesn’t really get more bizarre than this. Here we have a matter of great geopolitical import, and the American empire’s ambassador to the UN is cracking lame soccer mom jokes to an audience of American Zionists. Is she sincerely proud of the fact that the US and Israel stand isolated on this issue? Does she actually believe that the rest of the world is in the wrong, and that only the US and Israel are able to perceive the moral righteousness inherent in strangling the Cuban economy? Does she have any clue as to why the embargo was imposed in the first place? Why it’s still being imposed more than fifty years later? I think the answer to the first two questions is yes, and I’m certain the answer to the second two is no. Our ambassador to the UN, who our whack-job president reportedly wants as his secretary of state, is a half-wit. She’s completely out of her depth and she doesn’t even know it.

It goes without saying that Haley pandered throughout her speech; when she wasn’t offering fulsome praise of Israel and Jewish people she was whining about the UN, a “hostile place” where a “caricature” of Israel has allegedly been painted. The use of “caricature” in this context is obviously, and disgracefully, designed to evoke images of Streicher-esque caricatures of Jews; thus Haley implicitly conflates legitimate criticism of Israel with anti-Semitism, a familiar Zionist tactic. She proceeded to take a shot at Barack Obama, who we have seen was an avid apologist for Israeli terror. Nevertheless, he can never be forgiven for refusing to veto a non-binding (i.e. meaningless) Security Council resolution demanding that Israel cease its settlement activity in the occupied territories. To reiterate: the Obama administration did not vote in favor of the resolution; they merely neglected to veto it (Obama vetoed an identical resolution in 2011). With the US abstaining, it passed, and Netanyahu promptly announced that Israel would be expanding settlements deeper into the West Bank, demonstrating again that Israel is a rogue state with no regard for international law.

Letting the resolution pass, Haley said, “was a cowardly act, and a real low point for America at the UN.” Almost as low as the song and dance she performed before the Security Council in the wake of the chemical incident in Khan Sheikhoun, Syria, wherein she exploited images of dead children to whip up public hysteria and garner support for Trump’s cruise missile attack, an illegal act of aggression promoted with vim by the major media.

Haley’s speech of course included all the usual platitudes regarding Iran. You know the drill: Iran supports terrorists, Iran supports Assad, Iran is testing missiles, Iran is arming the Houthis in Yemen, Iran is allied with Hezbollah, the nuclear agreement is bad news, blah, blah, blah. Referencing Trump’s decision to let Congress “review” the multilateral nuclear deal and decide unilaterally whether it needs to be modified (or scrapped altogether, despite Iran’s full compliance with its terms), Haley said: “Congress now has the opportunity to bring the debate about the Iran nuclear deal out from the fantasy world created by the Obama echo-chamber and into the real world where it belongs.” Again, one stands in awe of her utter lack of self-awareness.

Haley and I do agree on one thing: the UN Human Rights Council is a joke. Not because, as Haley says, it seeks to discourage businesses from operating out of illegal Israeli settlements, but rather because countries like Saudi Arabia, a staunch US ally and one of the worst human rights violators on the planet, have seats on the council. Needless to say, Haley’s speech included no reference to Saudi war crimes in Yemen, where over 5,000 civilians have been killed since 2015, the vast majority of them by the Saudi-led—and US-supported—coalition. Millions more are suffering from famine, while thousands of new cases of cholera are reported every day.

“There simply is no explanation the USA or other countries such as the UK and France can give to justify the continued flow of weapons to the Saudi Arabia-led coalition for use in the conflict in Yemen,” an exasperated Amnesty International representative said in September. “It has time and time again committed serious violations of international law, including war crimes, over the past 30 months, with devastating consequences for the civilian population.”

I think it’s safe to say Nikki Haley won’t be presenting images of dead or starving Yemeni children to the Security Council. At least not until we have reason to invade Saudi Arabia.

November 7, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Times hails Belgian royal’s conservation of the Congo – a place ravaged by Belgian royals

RT | November 7, 2017

“Why would a Belgian royal risk his life to save a Congolese wilderness?” reads a somehow unironic headline in the Times Magazine this weekend. The question is posed alongside an introduction to Belgium’s Prince Emmanuel de Merode.

According to the profile, de Merode is “battling to preserve the Virunga National Park – and the people and animals who live there.” The story follows de Merode’s conservation efforts in the eastern Congo where the royal is leading the redevelopment of Virunga’s internal infrastructure, including the costly construction of a two-mile canal and a series of hydroelectric plants.

Referring to de Merode’s “staggering ambition” for the country’s power grid, the article reads: “For this plant alone has raised $22million, plus $12million for a 250-mile network to distribute its electricity to three towns on Virunga’s border.”

The piece includes dazzling tales of de Merode evading machine gun fire while flying his Cessna jet over territories held by militiamen, his battle to defeat poachers targeting endangered animals and his “visionary” bid to remake the region.

But given the brutal history of the Belgian monarchy in the Congo, and the historic transfer of wealth out of the country to its rulers in Europe, some readers quickly declared the piece not only tone deaf, but also a stunning display of ignorance.

It is estimated that more 10 million people were killed during King Leopold II’s reign over the Congo, a country allocated to Belgium in 1884 during the Berlin Conference to regulate Europe’s colonization of West Africa.

Rising demand for rubber worldwide meant that land in the resource-rich Congo was divided up by the king and given to private mining companies in order to boost production. These companies were allowed to operate with impunity, forcing local Congolese into labor to collect the rubber cheaply.

The Force Publique, the 19,000-strong native paramilitary army set up to protect the interests of the mining firms, were notorious for cutting off the hands of workers who refused to collect rubber, or failed to meet their quotas. Soldiers also took women and family members hostage in order to force people into work.

For some, De Merode’s fundraising to build his hydroelectric dam might be more easily taken on its merits if his ancestors had not used profits from the Congo to fund large-scale urban renewal projects back in Belgium.

Leopold himself claimed he never profited personally from colonialism, but the Belgian scholar Jules Marchal has estimated that he drew around 220 million francs – more than $1billion in today’s money – from the Congo in his lifetime.

For his part, de Merode does acknowledge some of his country’s crimes, namely King Albert’s theft of two million acres worth of subsistence farms to create the national park in the first place.

“Enormous benefit was given to the whole of humanity, but the price is being paid by the local people who are among the poorest on earth,” he said. “You have an enormous case of social injustice… Local people are extremely hostile. Many of them are desperate, with no livelihood, no income and nowhere to go.”

One wonders if his concerns about social justice extend as far as reparations.

READ MORE: Prince William warns there are too many humans

November 7, 2017 Posted by | Environmentalism, Illegal Occupation, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

Hamas slams PA for insistence on EU mission at Rafah crossing

Palestine Information Center – November 4, 2017

GAZA – Member of Hamas Political Bureau, Mousa Abu Marzouk, condemned in a tweet on Saturday the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) insistence on the existence of the EU mission at Rafah border crossing. This means the return of the Israeli control over the crossing, he highlighted.

“Why is the PA keen on the Israeli existence at the crossing when it has become managed by a national administration?” Abu Marzouk wondered.

Last Wednesday, the Palestinian consensus government took over the control of Gaza Strip crossings in accordance with the latest Cairo reconciliation agreement.

November 4, 2017 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation | , , , , | Leave a comment